Item 8 - Appendix 2 - Land at Warrens Lane, Benacre Road, Ellough

Appendix 2
Response to letter of objection from applicant’s agent
Proposed Crematorium, Ellough, Suffolk – 14/1314/FUL
We refer to our recent meeting and the letter of objection submitted by NWA
Planning on behalf of Mr Stephen Basey-Fisher in connection with the above site.
Please find below my client’s response to the comments raised in the letter. We
would be grateful if you could bring the contents of this letter to the attention of
Members when they meet to consider the application.
The objection pays no regard to the findings of the submissions on policy matters or
the specific circumstances appertaining to crematoria development in relation to
matters of sustainability. To assist the Council in understanding the relevant issues,
we have attached a further appeal decision in respect of a crematorium proposal at
Amber Valley, Derbyshire secured by Memoria last year.
NWA Planning’s assessment of the application proposal is flawed on a number of
points these are summarised below.
National Planning Policy Framework – NPPF
Contrary to the comments by NWA Planning, paragraph 14 of the Framework
confirms that planning decisions should be made in accordance with the
development plan, but where the development plan is absent, silent, or relevant
policies are out of date, permission should be granted unless the adverse impacts of
doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed
against the policies in the Framework. In other words, where the development plan
fails to contain relevant policies relating to a development proposal, it does not follow
that the development fails to comply with the plan. It should be determined in
accordance with the policies within the Framework and in accordance with the
presumption in favour of sustainable development.
The location of the site in the countryside does not automatically preclude
development. Crematoria development are rarely, if ever, catered for within
development plan policies and are therefore treated as an exception to normal
policies of restraint. Paragraph 28 of the Framework confirms that the sustainable
growth and expansion of all types of business should be supported in the rural areas,
and whilst a core principle is to recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the
countryside, the provision does not distinguish between rural settlements and the
open countryside. It is therefore inappropriate to conclude that a conflict with Policy
CS01 arises simply because crematoria development is not defined within the policy
or indeed that the selected site lies within the countryside.
The fact that crematoria development are not referred to in paragraphs 18-219 of the
Framework does not preclude them from being permitted in accordance with the
principles of the Framework. The development is sustainable, meets an identified
quantitative and qualitative need and has been designed and landscaped in a
manner which is appropriate for the rural context of the site. The fundamental
objectives of the Framework are therefore met. Evidence for this can be found in a
number of recent appeal decisions relating to crematoria development.
Paragraphs 34 and 37 are referred to by NWA Planning as giving rise to a conflict in
transport and sustainability terms. We disagree with this assumption. In the appeal
decision at
Cheshire West and Chester
appeal reference
APP/A0665/A/12/2186911 the Inspector found at paragraph 50 that on sustainability
grounds “…that in the absence of a local facility, journeys, including those by
corteges of limousines and cars, are made out of the local area to the existing
crematoria, I consider that it is appropriate to take a broader view of
sustainable travel than simply the extent to which the site is accessible by
public transport. The five existing crematoria are between 22km and 38km from
the site, and the Appellant suggest that, on the basis of an average of 15 cars
per service, there would be a saving in travel of 182,286km annually. This
figure is an estimate, and if a crematorium were established at Lach Dennis, I
anticipate that, particularly in the early years, there would be a certain level of
travel to funeral outside the locality due to existing family connections.
Nevertheless, given the distances involved to the existing crematoria, I
consider that the appeal proposal would have the potential to realise a
significant reduction in travel.” Similar conclusions were reached in the Amber
Valley appeal decision under reference APP/M1005/A/12/2188880. At paragraph 26
this Inspector concludes that “…the achievement of more sustainable travel
patterns receives express support in terms of the NPPF. Even if 276,000kms
per annum is the maximum degree of saving, the likely carbon saving over the
life of a crematorium would be very substantial.” It is evident from the above
decisions, that taking a narrow view of sustainability as NWA Planning has done, is
not the correct approach in the unique circumstances associated with crematoria
Development Plan Policy
The application proposals do not conflict with any of the quoted policies. A detailed
assessment of the policies has been provided in the submissions made and we do
not intend to repeat those arguments. Fundamentally, in respect of Policies DM02
and DM27, which NWA Planning say there is a conflict, it is pertinent to note that the
Council’s Landscape Officer has raised no objection to the proposal. Similarly, we
are not aware of any concerns in relation to the design of the building. The site is
located within an area where there are other commercial activities and where the
landscape is punctuated by commercial and agri-commercial structures. The
proposal would fit appropriately within this context. Furthermore, there is no
requirement to identify edge of settlement or brownfield sites, and the attached
appeal decisions and those already submitted confirm that sites within or on the edge
of settlements are unlikely to be available. The need to have an extensive area of
land to accommodate the crematorium, car park and gardens of remembrance
together with the need to address the requirements of the 1902 Cremation Act give
rise to limited opportunities to locate such a use within or on the edge of settlements.
Matters of need have been extensively disputed by NWA Planning. Memoria Ltd has
provided extensive information on the need for the development within the design
and access statement and through the independent need assessment as produced
by 4 Global.
Quantitative and Qualitative Need
Past crematoria appeal decisions at Camborne, Cornwall and Lach Dennis, Cheshire
were all submitted with the application. Each decision gave some common precedent
in the classification of what constitutes need in crematoria development. In each
case, it was acknowledged that in order for need to exist for a new crematorium, it is
necessary for the applicant to demonstrate either qualitative or quantitative need –
not both. While our assessments have demonstrated a moderate quantitative need, it
should be stressed that the quantitative catchment area at the proposed site is
similar to that demonstrated at Lach Dennis, Cheshire where the inspector concluded
that a quantitative need was present. The decision at Amber Valley, Derbyshire is
attached as an Appendix to this submission and further reinforces the need related
In terms of Qualitative Need, our assessments have clearly demonstrated a strong
qualitative need for the proposed development. To this end, 111,287 residents
currently live over 30 minutes away from their nearest crematorium but would identify
the proposed Waveney crematorium as their nearest facility. This represents 88% of
the quantitative catchment area and it should be stressed that these figures are more
significant than the figures demonstrated at Camborne, Swanwick and Lach Dennis
where it was concluded that a qualitative need exists.
Qualitative Need Methodology - 30-minute drive-time catchments
The NWA letter questions the validity of:
The level of population outside a 30-minute drive-time from existing
crematoria that would constitute qualitative need
0.6 x ‘normal speeds’ being the appropriate measure of cortege speed
In terms of the 0.6 factor and benchmarking qualitative need, the appeal decision in
Swanwick, Derbyshire stated the following:
Para 24: ‘Plainly the evidence shows there is a large gap in provision where
currently there is no facility within 30 minutes’ drive time. The appeal proposal
would fill that gap. In coming to this view I agree that the Appellant has
correctly applied a factor of 0.6 to normal road traffic speeds to take account of
cortege speeds.’
Incidentally, the appellant in this case was Memoria and the inspector was referring
to the 4 Global methodologies. The Inspector went on to say,
Para 23: ‘Over 93,000 people who live beyond 30 minutes of an existing
crematorium (at funeral cortege speed), will live closer to the appeal proposal.’
Para 31: ‘Plainly, there is a quantitative and qualitative need in this case.’
Funeral Director and Clergy Consultation
The NWA letter claims that the application has presented no evidence in terms of
qualitative need. Consultation with the funeral directing and clergy communities is an
internal procedure. It is designed to make Memoria feel more confident in the
numbers that are produced by a 4Global assessment. It is essential that this
information is kept anonymous to protect the integrity of the information. Funeral
directors and members of the Clergy are our only contact with bereaved families. By
understanding their points of view, we are able to better understand the existing
issues that are facing them and their clients/parishioners. I can confirm that 10 local
independent funeral directors have been contacted as part of this process. We are
unable to contact funeral directors from the Cooperative Group or Dignity PLC owing
to the fact that both these companies also develop and operate crematoria and thus
have a commercial conflict of interest.
It is worth noting that all consulted funeral directors were in favour of the scheme.
The majority were in favour owing to the current long and stressful journey times for
bereaved families meaning that it was very difficult for them to have a funeral service
at their local church and still transport the attending congregation to the nearest
crematorium owing to the fact that this could involve a 90 minute round trip. There
were other comments and issues in relation to waiting times for convenient service
times during the busier winter months. This is said to be as long as 2-3 weeks
between November and March which is clearly unacceptable.
While the above information is undoubtedly relevant to the need argument, It is worth
emphasising that at no point does our need argument rely on our FD and Clergy
consultation. It is purely an internal process to help us understand the market that we
will be looking to serve so that we can feel more comfortable about the level of
investment that we are proposing to make into this public service facility. We firmly
believe that the information and figures provided in the application demonstrate clear
evidence of quantitative and especially qualitative need for the proposed facility
without having to go into this more subjective level of detail.
Capacity issues within the existing crematoria network
The NWA letter indicates that Great Yarmouth crematorium is not currently operating
at full capacity thus resulting in a diminished need for the proposed facility.
It should be noted that all crematoria in this country technically have spare capacity.
This is to say that not every time slot is filled throughout the year. However, this does
not mean that the existing crematoria network is under pressure during various times
of the year. Traditionally, crematoria are busier during the winter months. As long as
2-3 weeks delay for service times have been reported at all 3 competing crematoria
in the area between the months of November and February. This will undoubtedly
have a clear impact on the level of service being offered.
It is also worth noting that the most popular service times for funerals are in the
middle of the day. This allows families and friends the opportunity to travel to the
funeral from outside the area but still be able to get home at a reasonable hour. As a
result, most crematoria have busy periods between the hours of 11.00 and 15.00 with
some families choosing to change the date of the funeral dependent on the time slot
that they are able to get. The point is that the time of service is significant and while
some existing crematoria might have technical spare capacity, the shortage of
‘popular slots’ means that waiting times for a service can be over 2 weeks during the
busier winter months.
Spare capacity exists during less busy times of the year. However, it is
acknowledged that crematoria experience seasonal variations in demand. Great
Yarmouth crematorium is reported to suffer from service time delays of over 2 weeks
between November and March, indicating that this facility is operating close to
capacity during these periods. This adds to the Qualitative Need argument for the
proposed facility.
This approach to understanding capacity in crematoria development has been
accepted by 2 separate appeal decisions:
In relation to spare capacity matters debated at the Camborne Inquiry, the Inspector
found the following and comments at paragraph 23, “…I do not consider that it is
entirely realistic to suggest that every available time slot, especially those in
early mornings or late afternoon, could or would be utilised and consequently
the practical capacity of the crematorium would be less than the council’s
theoretical figure.”
Similarly, in relation to spare capacity debated at the Amber Valley Inquiry, the
Inspector found that at paragraph 31, “…The 4 existing crematoria have technical
capacity when looking at their operation over any particular year but the fact
that Chesterfield crematorium, for example, has plenty of availability in the
summer months, or at 16.30 hours on a winter’s afternoon is of little comfort or
use to those needing to book a funeral at the busiest time of the year at a time
of day that would actually allow friends and family to attend. The technical
capacity of the 4 crematoria does not bring people who currently live beyond a
reasonable distance to a crematorium any closer to that crematorium.”
Waveney DC view on a need for a new crematorium
We understand that the need for a new crematorium in Waveney DC has been
underpinned by the Council through its own site identification process to
accommodate a crematorium within Waveney. As such the need for the crematorium
has been clearly justified not only by the quantitative and qualitative analysis carried
out by Memoria, but also by the Council. Given that the chosen site in centrally
located within the district so to best service all Waveney’s major centres of
population, it is our assertion that the proposed development would satisfy this
identified need.
Landscape Related Matters
A number of landscape and associated policy matters have been raised by NWA
Planning. We have asked Memoria’s Landscape Consultants, Hankinson Duckett
Associates to respond to the points. Their comments are set out in the following
Page 2, point (i)-paragraph 5.
The representation states that the proposed development does not meet with
the requirements of Policy DM02 - Design Principles of the Waveney
Development Management Policies which requires development proposals to
respect and enhance the identity and character of the site, to contribute
towards the distinctiveness of the local area, the quality of the built
environment and the surrounding landscape. The paragraph also makes a
number of other points which are repeated elsewhere in the representation and
described further in in this response.
The identity of the site is an arable field enclosed by hedgerows containing trees,
typical of the local area. This small to medium landscape scale structure creates a
contained landscape and views. Development of a site will inevitably alter the
character of it. The landscape scheme has been designed to conserve and enhance
the small scale landscape structure in line with the strategic objectives outlined in
Waveney District Landscape Character Assessment. The composition/distribution to
the tree planting blocks has been designed to reflect the existing network and
enhance the co-axial field pattern whilst retaining the small scale landscape structure
of the area. They provide structure for the site and to reduce the visual impact of the
development. Hedgerows would be planted along the northern site boundary, to
replace those removed as part of the junction reconfiguration works. Hedgerows are
also proposed around the perimeter of the car parking and through the centre of the
site. Site boundaries have been thickened by additional planting.
The local area comprises agricultural fields to the south and west with blocks of
woodland (Ellough Grove) to the south along with business parks industrial areas
and an airport to the north and east. The local area could not be described as
unspoiled rural countryside as stated in the representation.
Page 3, point (i)-paragraph 1 states that.
Policy DM27 – Protection of Landscape Character requires development to be
informed by and sympathetic to the distinctive character areas and strategic
objectives and considerations identified in the Waveney Landscape Character
Assessment. It specifically requires development proposals to demonstrate
that their location, scale, design and materials will protect and where possible
enhance the special qualities and local distinctiveness of the area and that
where there is an adverse effect development will not be permitted unless it
can be demonstrated that it cannot be located on alternative sites which would
cause less harm and the benefits clearly outweigh any adverse impacts. In this
case, the applicants have made no attempt to demonstrate that it has
objectively considered alternative sites and the proposal is therefore contrary
to the policy. In particular, the Council would need to be satisfied that all
suitable brownfield and urban fringe locations had been thoroughly assessed
and considered before locations in the open countryside are given favourable
Policy DM27 sets out the landscape character areas to which the policy applies;
Saints Plateau-East is not a character area identified in Policy DM27, Tributary Valley
Farmland, to the north and south of the site is within the areas covered by the Policy.
Notwithstanding the misinterpretation of the policy, the landscape considerations in
relation to development are set out in the Waveney District Landscape Character
Assessment. Character area I2 Saints Plateau – East states that proposals should:
“Conserve and enhance the existing wooded settings and low key approaches
to the areas of settlement, such as narrow rural lanes and grassy, tree lined
verges. The commons and village greens are important to the setting of
settlements and their rural character and should be conserved. Development
should retain the rural character of the landscape and make reference to
indigenous vernacular materials. The dispersed character of the hamlets within
the area should be conserved, maintaining a sense of separation between
them, avoiding infill especially in relation to linear settlements along roads.
Large scale, mass woodland planting would not be appropriate in this open
plateau landscape, although small farm woodlands of a similar scale and
composition/distribution to the existing network of woodland blocks could be
Although the proposals change the site from an agricultural field to a crematorium
and garden of remembrance the proposed development will conserve the ‘the
existing wooded settings and low key approaches to the areas of settlement, such as
narrow rural lanes and grassy, tree lined verges’. It will further enhance the character
by adding tree planting adding to the textured, mosaic character of the area. The
development does ‘retain the rural character of the landscape and make reference to
indigenous vernacular materials’. The development does not affect the commons or
village green in the area. The development does not affect the ‘The dispersed
character of the hamlets within the area’ and does not ‘infill especially in relation to
linear settlements along roads’. The development also does not create ‘large scale,
mass woodland planting would not be appropriate in this open plateau landscape’.
There are some minor impacts as discussed below but these are not considered to
be significant adverse effects and the benefits of the scheme as a whole would
outweigh any minor adverse impacts.
Page 3, point (i)-paragraph 5 states that.
Paragraph 109 of the NPPF requires the planning system to contribute to and
enhance the natural and local environment by, inter alia, protecting and
enhancing valued landscapes. The application site is part of the Saints Plateau
Landscape Character Area and the development would inevitably detract from
the open agricultural landscape which currently exists by the intrusion of
uncharacteristic built form and related features and the introduction of a
stylised and uncharacteristic landscaping of the memorial gardens. The
development would therefore fail to protect and enhance a valued landscape
contrary to NPPF guidance.
The valued landscape described in the NPPF is considered to be The Suffolk Coast
and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which at its closet point is
700m to the east of the site as shown on plan HDA1. Views from this area were
considered as part of the LVA as well as impacts on its setting. No views of the site
were possible from the AONB and no impacts on the setting of the AONB were
determined. Waveney District Landscape Charter Assessment Character area I2
Saints Plateau – East is not considered a valued landscape under the NPPF. The
proposed landscape enhancements on the site reflect those within the landscape
character area and further enhance the textured mosaic of landscape described in
the Waveney District Landscape Charter Assessment.
Page 4, point (ii) (a)-paragraph 4.
The representation states that development will be sub-urban and non-rural in
character. It lists a number of features within the development that it suggests
are urban in nature as listed below and are discussed in turn.
(i) The widening of Warrens Lane and the introduction of a formal access way
into the site; (repeated point from Page 2, point (i), paragraph 5).
A short section of Warrens Lane is being widened to allow safe access to the site.
The road will be widened on the southern side only with the grassed verges retained.
Where hedges are proposed for removal they would be replaced as part of the
development. This would not significantly alter the low key narrow rural lane with
grassy tree lined verges as described in the Waveney District Council Landscape
Character Assessment. There is already a formal access to the field in question
controlled by a dilapidated metal gate. This gap would be closed and moved west to
a safer location. The gate will be replaced by traditional timber field gates more
suited to the sites rural location.
(ii) The introduction of roadside signage; (repeated point from Page 2, point (i),
paragraph 5).
Additional highways agency standard signage would be required to direct people
visiting the crematorium. This would be limited in nature and is normally agreed
through a section 278 agreement post planning application. The surrounding roads
are not devoid of road signage and it would not be out of character of a rural lane to
have road signs.
(iii) The construction of a large single storey building of non-traditional
appearance, form and scale incongruously located; (repeated point from Page
2, point (i), paragraph 5).
The scale, form and design of the building is domestic in nature and is located rural
area, with other existing domestic, commercial and industrial features within the
landscape around it. The materials used are characteristic of the area with pantile
roofs and red brick used extensively in the local area and are described as the local
vernacular in the Waveney District Council Landscape Character Assessment.
(iv) The introduction of lighting to access roads, parking areas and the building
itself creating an incongruous and intrusive element in the winter months;
The landscape scheme has been designed to provide screening in the winter months
in the long term similar to what is already provided along the southern section of the
eastern boundary as shown in the photographs accompanying the LVA. Lighting
would be low level or use hooded lanterns to minimise light spillage. The use of
lighting would be minimal given the hours of operation.
(v) The idiosyncratic atypical landscaping of the memorial gardens which
would be out of place in a rural setting; and (repeated point from Page 2, point
(i), paragraph 5).
The memorial gardens would be more formal in nature than the surrounding
countryside, however, the gardens of remembrance are set within a wider landscape
structure which would be adequately screen the gardens from the majority of views
outside the site as assessed by the LVA. The landscape scheme for the wider site
which is rural in character and has been designed to accord within the local
landscape character.
(vi) The large-scale generation of traffic onto a very quiet rural lane.
Traffic levels are discussed in the separate Transport Assessment. The impacts
discussed above, with regard to the design the building and layout out of the site,
were identified as minor and do not constitute impacts of significance. They would
not lead to the site being either sub-urban or urban in nature. The proposed
crematorium and memorial gardens are set within a landscape structure of native
tree and hedgerow planting and within that landscape setting it is acceptable in a
rural location.
Page 4, point (ii) (a)-paragraph 5 states that:
The development would detract from the current rural appearance of the site
and would fail to reinforce the distinctive characteristics of the Saints Plateau
area as recommended in the Waveney Landscape Character Assessment. As
such it would fail to enhance the existing character of the site and would
represent a permanent loss to future generations contrary to NPPF Paragraph
The landscape scheme has been specifically design to reflect the local landscape
character and emulates the following key characteristics as outlined in the Waveney
District Landscape Charter Assessment (Character area I2 Saints Plateau – East):
Mixed native hedgerows of variable density are reinforced by mature
hedgerow oaks. Blocks of deciduous farm woodland (often ancient woodland)
provide variation in the landscape structure;
The density of hedgerows and the areas of farm woodland create a
landscape of relatively contained scale and views;
Local vernacular is defined by traditional red brick and pantile dwellings and
flint churches. Oxblood colour washed render is also apparent;
A landscape with a distinct historic character and pattern, which creates a
textured, mosaic character at points. The co axial field pattern creates a
relatively intimate spatial scale in an arable landscape;
Page 4, point (ii) (a)- paragraph 6. (Repeat of page 4, point (ii) (a), paragraph 4.).
The applicants landscape Assessment acknowledges that there will be adverse
impacts in the first 10-15 years but inadequately addresses the long term
impacts perimeter hedgerow trees will be bare.
The landscape scheme has been designed to provide screening in the winter months
in the longer term similar to what is already provided along the southern section of
the eastern boundary as shown in the photographs accompanying the LVA.
We trust the above adequately addresses the objections raised which in the opinion
of Memoria Ltd have no foundation or justification for the reasons set out above.
Kind regards
for Genesis Town Planning Ltd